28 July, 2012

Parenting Pandemic

The 'Terrible Twos' they call it. Well, I have a feeling that the nomenclature is more along the alliterative lines rather than accuracy.

And am not speaking merely from the point of view of my own offspring alone. Have been seeing children closely for a while now and I honestly feel that having a child is whole different ballgame in real time vs the over-the-top glorified theoretical version.

Sure, you have books from world-renowned experts, child psychologists and other parents but no one ever tells you that there's a sense of ennui that comes in from parenting after a while. A sense of utter, complete frustration, vexation and a wish to scream AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH right into the winds and just purge yourself of the phenomenon that is your offspring.

Of course, we are the ones who are largely responsible for it. Children ape us, in things good and bad. Desirable and undesirable and while we keep hoping they'll grow up and reach the next milestone with rapid alacrity; the very next moment we keep ruing the day that they stop crawling and doing largely cute things.

I am by nature a lethargic person when the pressure builds up. Not always but when the tempos becoming a little too fast for me to keep up with it. A valve opens up, releases the urgency and I just fall into this lassitude which leads me to cop out from being a disciplinarian just so I can revel in some quiet, some peace and not having to run after a force of nature who cannot and will not be bottled!

So after a harried and hurried discussion with Red late last night where I was spewing venom, feeling guilty, thinking of drowning my sorrow in a single malt or two (or three) I decided that the era of soft-touch parenting has to be tempered down and a new era of tough-love mommyism has to be ushered in.

What is tough-love mommyism? Well it doesn't mean you send your kid to a boot camp and turn them into a ruthlessly efficient grunt! It is more along the lines of doing what is truly the best thing for the child and not letting them develop too many crutches that hinder you, them and basically you from doing your daily parenting stuff.

Case in point: My child watches t.v. when he has his meals. No rocket science required to decipher that his meals are kind of stretched out and during the times of power cuts his mouth curiously refuses to open to admit food or his jaws refuse to chew to allow aforementioned food into gullet. It was convenient to feed him with a bit of kiddy program playing. But he causes a riot without it, that's the mucho biggo problemo!!

And substituting television for something else just causes the crutch to shift onto another object rather than neutralizing it once and for all.

The thing with smallish kids (2-4) age groups is that they're usually the sole one around at home. They are either in day care for a while or at home with their mothers. And after a while it really is easier on everyone to let them have their own way. And children see it happening day after day and notice the pattern. Once the pattern is established they just go about setting forth those conditions which allow for the privileges of TV, toys, candies out of turn.

Since it's available without too much fussing, and there's no real sense of having to acquire it, kids are able to Pavlov their parents into giving them what they want. Ergo, the onus and fault rests squarely on us to help them understand that there are boundaries and there will also be consequences to their actions if those boundaries are repeatedly breached.

Sounds very bad ass but it's not. Who else will ever care that the child is well-behaved, moderately obedient and capable of adjusting in most kinds of situations but the parent? And that has to start from home.

Let them cry for a bit. Be a rock. Immovable if need be. Corporal punishment is something I'm personally uncomfortable with and disciplining the child physically leaves me with way too much negativity to indulge in it again and again.

Like with all things, consistency is the name of the game with kids till they really are old enough to make their own value judgements. We got them to sleep on their own, eat their mushed carrots and peas, got them toilet trained with unfailing consistency so why not on this issue?

Do you know why this blog post took place today? So the next time I find myself responding like Pavlov's dogs to my kid's metaphorical bell ringing, I can refer to this and straighten my spine and take back what's rightfully mine- peace of mind, sanity (some amount of it at least) and have a better behaved child who'll get more rewards for being a doll.  I hope.

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